Magical Moments and Heartfelt Hospitality: Why Carla Dawes Is Australia's Best Airbnb Host
"I think wanting to give your guests the very best experience you can, in every way, is the making of a good Host."
November 07, 2022
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Being an Airbnb Host is hard work, but also a truly rewarding experience — and Carla Dawes, who has just been named Australia's Airbnb Host of the Year, can certainly vouch for that.
Having joined the accommodation platform as a Host five years ago, Dawes transformed the downstairs of her residence in Alstonville, NSW into a welcoming destination for travellers from around the world to call home during their time in the Northern Rivers. Dawes goes above and beyond to make her guests feel as welcome as possible — from providing fresh flowers, herbs and eggs from her property for guests to enjoy during their stay, to stocking local produce that showcases the best of the region.
We sat down with the official host with the most to chat about her hosting journey, what she loves about it and her tips and tricks for beginners.
What do you do to ensure an outstanding experience for your guests?
Hosting for me is about putting everything into a stay that I would want to experience on my travels. For me it's all in the detail — greeting your guests is always a nice way to welcome them and answer any questions they might have before they settle in. I think wanting to give your guests the very best experience you can, in every way, is the making of a good Host.
I supply a book full of my local recommendations for cafes, restaurants and places of interest — such as galleries, shops, walks and beaches. I think this is a valuable resource, especially if your guest isn't familiar with the area. Hopefully this directs them to a wonderful experience.
To ensure an outstanding experience I think it's most important to have your place sparkling clean from top to bottom. Added extras like spare pillows, blankets and towels — things that make your guests stay that little bit more comfortable — also help.
I supply local products to showcase our region's wonderful offerings, such as a fresh loaf of sourdough from Harvest in Newrybar, Brookfarm muesli and Byron Bay Cookies.
I also like to place fresh flowers and herbs from my garden and fresh eggs from my hens as a special touch. Guests are also welcome to collect eggs and harvest their own vegetables, herbs or fruits from my garden to use during their stay.
What inspired you to offer local ingredients for breakfast?
When I'm travelling, it's about escaping my daily routine. Sitting on a deck and having breakfast with coffee is one of my favourite ways to start the day before exploring the local area. This is what I want my guests to experience. I take pride in using fresh eggs from my hens and homegrown seasonal produce from my garden.
What's something you wish you knew when you started hosting?
When I started hosting, I didn't have many people to talk to about tips and tricks for Hosts until I found the Airbnb Community online forum where a large range of subjects are covered. Now it's my go-to if I ever need advice from other Hosts and the Airbnb team.
What do you find rewarding about hosting?
I love that I get to meet all sorts of people from different countries, backgrounds and professions, and to hear their stories and help them in any way I can to make them feel welcomed, relaxed and taken care of.
Creating magical moments with my guests for their loved ones is pretty special, even with such a small part I play in setting up the flowers, food or secret surprises is always a joy.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of becoming a Host? What are some good ways to get started?
I think when you start out as a Host, creating a routine around preparations and having an area to store equipment for your listing is helpful. Respond to guests' enquiries as quickly as possible. Also, provide clear instructions on check-in times, directions to your place and a contact number.
What are some of the benefits of hosting? What has hosting allowed you to do?
I run a 14-acre property with vegetable gardens, an orchard and chooks among some of the day-to-day jobs. Becoming a Host has not only allowed me to earn an income from my property, but it has also given me the freedom and flexibility to continue my work on the land without being committed to a 9-to-5 job elsewhere.
Want to begin your own hosting journey with Airbnb? If you're feeling inspired, head to the website to find out how to get started.
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